Skip to main content

Full text of "Thomas Taylor, the Platonist .."

See other formats


THOMAS TAYLOR, THE PLATOMT: 

A Biographical and Bibliographical Sketch. 



BY WILLIAM E. A. AXON. 




Reprinted from "THE LIBRARY,"////)/ and August ', 1890. 



FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION. 



fatttom, 1890. 



UNIVERSITY 



THOMAS TAYLOR, THE PLATONIST. 

H^HOMAS TAYLOR, the Platonist,has beenvariouslyjudged. 1 
A " To strain human curiosity to the utmost limits of human 
credibility," says Isaac Disraeli, " a modern Plato has arisen in 
Mr. Thomas Taylor, who consonant to the Platonic Philosophy, 
religiously professes polytheism ! At the close of the eighteenth 
century, be it recorded, were published many volumes in which 
the author affects to avow himself a zealous Platonist, and 
asserts that he can prove that the Christian religion is ' a bastard- 
ized and barbarous Platonism.' The divinities of Plato are the 
deities to be adored, and we are to be taught to call God, 
Jupiter; the Virgin, Venus; and Christ, Cupid! The Iliad 
of Homer allegorized, is converted into a Greek Bible of 
the Arcana of Nature ! (Curiosities of Literature : Modern 
Platonism.) 

T. J. Mathias styles Taylor " the would-be restorer of unin- 
telligible mysticism and superstitious pagan nonsense," and 
speaks of 

" The hymns that Taylor, England's Gentile priest, 
Sung spousal at fair Psyche's marriage feast." 

Another critic, writing in Blackwood's Magazine in 1825, said, 
"The man is an ass, in the first place; secondly, he knows 
nothing of the religion of which he is so great a fool as to 



1 The materials for the following sketch are in Allibone's Dictionary of English 
Literature ; An Annotated Catalogue of an unique and exceptionally complete 
Set of the Works of Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, by Orlin Mead Sanclford, New 
York, 1885 ; also in Book Lore, vols. 2, and 3 ; The Antiquary, August, 1888 (by 
Edward Peacock^ ; The Survival of Paganism (Fraser's Magazine, November, 1875); 
Lowndes' Bibliographer's Manual, British Museum General Catalogue : Barker's 
Literary Anecdotes ; Publick Characters, 1798-1799 (this is, if not autobiographical, 
evidently based on information supplied by the subject ; there is a portrait of him, 
representing a rather ascetic but kindly face) ; Disraeli s Curiosities of Literature ; 
Mathias' Pursuits of Literature ; Nouvelle Biographic Generale, par Hcefer ; 
A Brief Notice of the Life of Mr. Thomas Taylor, the Celebrated Platonist, ivith 
a Catalogue of his Works, London, 1831, signed J. J. W. [Y.*., James Jacob Welsh.] 



profess himself a votary ; and thirdly, he knows less than 
nothing of the language about which he is continually writing." 
(Quoted by Dr. Allibone.} De Quincey also had a poor opinion 
of him, yet read what Ralph Waldo Emerson, in his conversa- 
tion with Wordsworth, has said : " I told him it was not credit- 
able that no one in all the country knew anything of Thomas 
Taylor, the Platonist, whilst in every American library his 
translations were found. I said, * If Plato's Republic were 
published in England, as a new book, to-day, do you think it 
would find any readers ? ' He confessed it would not ; * and 
yet,' he added, after a pause, with that complacency which never 
deserts a true-born Englishman, * and yet we have embodied 
it all.'" (Emerson's Representative Men, London, 1850, p. 39. 
See also pp. 18, 38, 40-44.) 

The singular and interesting man who is known to us as 
Taylor, the Platonist, was born in London in the year 1758, and 
his parents we are told were " obscure but worthy." His father 
was Joseph Taylor, staymaker, of Round Court, St. Martins-le- 
Grand, where the future Platonist was probably born. 1 He was 
a weakly child, and signs of consumption induced his family Jo 
send him into Staffordshire. He returned to the metropolis in 
his ninth year, and was admitted at St. Paul's School, April 
loth, 1767. His parents designed him for the Nonconformist 
ministry. His affection for philosophy, as distinguished from 
the mere verbal acquaintance with classics, was so marked, that 
when an ethical or specially grand sentence occurred in an 
author he was construing, the surmaster, Mr. William Rider, 
would say, " Come, here is something worthy the attention of 
a philosopher." He early discovered critical powers, which 
enabled him to notice and correct a blunder in the printing of a 
Latin Testament. He had now to disappoint his father, whose 
reverence for the ministerial office led him to regard it as " the 
most desirable and most enviable employment upon earth, and 
who was correspondingly troubled when he found that his 
talented son had no desire to occupy that office, and had so great 
a dislike to the public school teaching and languages as it then 
was that he begged to be taken home again. He had also 
been for a time a pupil of Mr. Worthington, the dissenting 



1 Mr. Edward Peacock says that he was born I5th May, 1758, in a street at 
or near Bunhill Fields, London. \Antiqtutry t vol. xviii. p. i.) 



minister of Sailer's Hall. Taylor was precocious in another 
direction, for his passion for the lady who was afterwards his 
wife began when he was only twelve years old. 

At home young Taylor picked up a copy of Ward's Young 
Mathematician's Guide, and this gave him a turn for mathematics, 
in which he afterwards excelled, and to which he himself as- 
cribed no small share of his success afterwards as a translator 
of Greek philosophy. Owing to his father's opposition his early 
studies in mathematics were pursued in hours stolen from rest, 
and he slept with a tinder-box under his pillow. He was sent 
at fifteen to work under an uncle-in-law at Sheerness Dockyard, 
but rather than endure this unpleasant situation he attempted to 
fall in with his father's views and became pupil to a dissenting 
minister. He studied Greek and Latin in the day, courted Miss 
Morton in the evening, and at night read Simson's Conic Sections 
in the Latin edition. His judgment on Newton, after reading 
the Principia, was that he was a great mathematician but no 
philosopher ! Miss Morton's father intended his daughter for 
a richer man, but the young couple decided upon the imme- 
diate performance of the marriage ceremony, whilst postponing 
married life until the return of the bridegroom from Aberdeen 
University, where he was to finish his education. The step- 
mother 1 of Taylor found out the secret, and the young couple 
had a bad time of it. The bride's father was induced when 
dying to leave any payments to her to the discretion of a rela- 
tive whose fault was not that of open-handed liberality. For 
about a year the philosopher and his wife had only about seven 
shillings a week on which to live. Taylor obtained a situation 
as usher, and was only able to see his wife upon the Saturday 
afternoon. He next obtained a position in Lubbock's Bank at a 
salary of fifty pounds, paid quarterly, and endured great priva- 
tions from want of money, so that frequently from want of food 
he would be in a fainting condition on reaching home. Even 
under these discouraging circumstances Taylor did not neglect 
study, and turned his mind to the unprofitable consideration of 
Becker's P%ysica Subterranea and quadrature of the circle. His 
first essay, a quarto pamphlet, entitled A New Method of Reasoning 
in Geometry, bears upon the last-named subject, and its substance 



1 It is said to be the mother-in-law in the sketch in Public Characters, but 
the context seems to indicate that it was his father's wife, 



is reproduced in a note to his translation of Proclus On Euclid. 
A passage in Sir Kenelm Digby sent him to the writings of 
Aristotle, and he was soon able to read him in the original. He 
used to say himself that he learned Greek rather through the 
Greek philosophy than the Greek philosophy through Greek. 
The earnest student was always engaged at the bank until 
seven and often until ten, and in order to continue his abstract 
researches seldom went to bed until two or three o'clock in the 
morning. He had that power of abstraction from the common 
cares of life that is indispensable for successful thinking. The 
fact that he was accurate and "business-like" in his employ- 
ment did not in the least prevent him from digesting, whilst 
walking about delivering the bills of the bank, that which he 
had read in Aristotle and his interpreters. He paid great 
attention to the commentaries upon Aristotle. He next pro- 
ceeded to study Plato with equal or greater avidity. In this 
new path he soon came upon Plotinus and Proclus, whose 
dissertation on the theology of Plato he found so profound that 
it was not until he had thrice read it over that he thoroughly 
comprehended its abstruse matter. 

Whilst engaged with Proclus he had residing in his house 
Mary Woollstoncraft and her friend Miss Blood. Their three 
months' company was mutually agreeable. The lady listened 
attentively to his explanations of Plato, called his study the 
" Abode of Peace," but avowed her preference for an active, 
rather than a contemplative life. He called upon her when she 
lived in George Street, and there drank wine with her out of a 
tea-ciip ; Mrs. Woollstoncraft observed at the time, that she did 
not give herself the trouble to think whether a glass was a 
necessary utensil in a house. He has also heard her say " that 
one of the conditions she should make previous to marriage, with 
the man she intended for her husband, would be this that he 
should never presume to enter the room in which she was sitting, 
till he had first knocked at the door." 

After six years at the Bank, the drudgery proved too much, even 
for the philosophic spirit of Taylor. Nights of arduous study 
following days of uncongenial employment had injured his health. 
He had a notion that a perpetual lamp might be made, and he 
gave an exhibition of his invention at the " Freemasons' Tavern." 
He found that oil and salt boiled formed a fluid vehicle, which 
when phosphorus was immersed in it, both preserved and in- 
creased the splendour of light. Unfortunately, at the exhibition 



the phosphorus took fire, " and thus raised a prejudice against the 
invention which could never afterwards be removed." The failure 
was not, however, without result, for it attracted the attention of 
Mr. George Cumberland, who, with other friends, enabled Taylor 
to leave the bank " and procure subsistence for himself and 
his family by literary toil " but of what nature is not stated. 
Flaxman, the sculptor, induced him to write twelve lectures on 
the " Platonic Philosophy," which were read at the artist's house, 
where he had amongst his auditors Sir William Fordyce, the 
Hon. Mrs. Darner, Mrs. Cosway, Mr. Romney and others. Flax- 
man also introduced him to Bennet Langton, who thrice men- 
tioned him to the king as " a gigantic reader." George III. ex- 
pressed his admiration of Taylor's ability and industry, but did not 
take any further notice of his Platonic subject. But if royalty was 
not liberal another patron arose. A wealthy man, Mr. William 
Meredith, of Harley Place, who had become acquainted with 
Plato in the fine translation of Sydenham, took him by the 
hand, and enabled him to print his translations of the Hymns of 
Orpheus, the Commentaries of Proclus on Euclid, and the Fable of 
Cupid and Psyche. In William Meredith and his brother George, 
who was one of the architects who early studied Gothic, Taylor 
had liberal and sympathetic friends. 

It was at this period that the Marquis de Valady lodged with 
Taylor. The extraordinary letter in which the marquis intro- 
duced himself is dated " 12 Xbre 1788, vulg. aera," was 
printed by Taylor, and is quoted in Fraser's Magazine, Nov., 
1875. The Frenchman professed to be a Pythagorean, and 
thought that the philosophic doctrine of community should be 
extended to the conjugal relations. He asked the English 
Pythagorean's opinion ; but Taylor severely condemned the 
loose morality of the suggestion. 1 

Taylor had the true literary dislike of critics. Dining once 
at Mr. Bennet Langton's, with Dr. Burney and other eminent 
scholars, he exclaimed to his friend, as soon as he left the, 
house, "God keep me from critics!" This was occasioned 
by a dispute which arose at that time, respecting the pro- 



1 There is a biographical sketch of J. G. C. S. X. J. J. Izarn de Valady in the 
Lives of the Remarkable Characters of the French Revolution, and it is limned 
in very dark colours. "The persons to whom he was known assert with him 
madness was the result of immorality, not immorality the result of madness." 
He acted with the Girondins, and was arrested at Perigueux, and condemned to 
death, 5th December, 1794. 



priety of the epithet ocean stream, which Mr. Taylor had made 
use of in his translation of one of his Orphic hymns. Mr. 
Taylor urged, in his defence, that this epithet was employed by 
Homer, Hesiod, and Plato. To this Dr. Burney replied, that 
Homer indeed had the expression co/ceavo? Trorajjios, the ocean 
river, but that a river was not a stream. Mr. Taylor then 
observed that these words were considered as synonymous, 
by no less poets than Milton and Denham. By Milton, when 
speaking of the leviathan (Paradise Lost, Book i.) he says : 



or that sea beast 



Leviathan, whom God of all his works 
Created hugest, that swim th' ocean stream" 

And by Denham, in the first of his famous lines on the 
Thames : 

" O, could I flow like thee, and make thy stream 
My great exemplar, as it is my theme. " 

Soon after the departure of the marquis, Mr. Taylor and his 
wife became possessed of six or seven hundred pounds, by the 
death of one of her relations. A great part of this he spent in reliev- 
ing some relatives, and the rest he lost in a loan to one of his 
early friends. The transaction was creditable to his heart if not to 
his head. Five or six years after he was again in embarrassment, 
and in seven months translated some of the abstrusest of the 
Dialogues of Plato and then sold the copyright for forty pounds. 
For his versions of Sallust On the Gods and the World, the Pythagoric 
Sentences of Demophilus, the Five Hymns of Proclus, the Two 
Orations of the Emperor Julian and Five books of Plotinus he received 
twenty pounds. His translation of Pausanias was the work of 
ten months. When the work was undertaken Mr. Samuel Pat- 
terson, the literary auctioneer, said of the task that " it was 
enough to break a man's heart." " Oh," replied the bookseller, 
" nothing will break the heart of Mr. Taylor." He injured his 
health by the execution of tKis task, for which he received 
60. One result was that he lost the use of his forefinger in 
writing. 

Under the encouragement of an anonymous patron Taylor 
undertook to translate all the Platonic dialogues that had not 
been turned into English by Mr. Sydenham. For this purpose 
he visited the Bodleian at Oxford in 1797, and was " handsomely 
treated" by the University. The Merediths engaged him to 



translate Aristotle's Metaphysics.* Mr. Thomas Brand Hollis was 
another of his friends. 

The elder Disraeli wrote a now forgotten novel, entitled 
Vaurien, which appeared anonymously in 1797. In this there is 
a satirical sketch of the Platonist. It is not easy to select 
passages from it sufficiently brief and unobjectionable. Vaurien 
waits in conversation with the wife of the Platonist until he has 
completed his morning worship : " By this time the Platonist had 
concluded his long hymn to Apollo. Vaurien now ascended with 
difficulty. At the bottom of the stairs was a large kennel of 
dogs of various nations, who lived in a good understanding with 
each other, excepting when a bone was thrown among them, for 
then the dogs behaved like men, that is, they mangled and tore 
each other to pieces with sagacity and without remorse. Monkeys 
and apes were chained on the banisters. A little republic of 
cats was peaceably established on the first landing place. He 
passed through one room which was an aviary and another which 
was an apiary. From the ceiling of the study of the Platonist, 
depended a polished globe of silvered glass, which strongly re- 
flected the beams of the sun. Amidst this aching splendour sat the 
Platonist, changing his seat with the motions of his god, so that 
in the course of the day he and the sun went regularly round 
the apartment. He was occupied in constructing a magic 
lanthorn, which puerile amusement excited the surprise of 
Vaurien." 

The Platonist accounted for it. " My dissertation on the 
Eleusinian mysteries is not all understood. The whole ma- 
chinery, reflected on a white sheet, will be more intelligible 
than any I could give on a sheet of paper. In the presence of 
the gods, in the most holy of the mysteries, daemons appeared 
with the heads of dogs ; Pletho says this, who lived a thousand 
years after the mysteries. Then I have ' omniform and terrific 
monsters ; ' then the demiurgus, the progress of purgation, inspec- 
tion, crowning, torch-bearing, and, finally, friendship with the 
gods. But here is the great difficulty. How shall I represent 
' the intolerable effulgence of the divine light ? ' Much it grieves 
me, that for this sublime purpose a candle and a piece of 
coloured tin are all I can get into the lanthorn. The gods 



1 Mr. Peacock states that the translations of Aristotle were published at the 
expense of the Duke of Norfolk, 



8 

are not always favourable to my attempts. After long experi- 
ments, I conceived I had discovered the perpetual sepulchral 
lamp of the ancients. Last week I invited my friends to a 
philosophical lecture on my perpetual lamp; I triumphed in my 
discovery ; but ere my lecture closed my lamp was suddenly 
extinguished. Good Gods!" (Vol. II., p. 192.) 

After more, which is best left untouched, we read : 

" Vaurien having felicitated the Platonist on the new world 
he had opened to himself, said, * You propose to overturn 
Christianity by the publications of the Platonists, and to erect 
a Pantheon, that the gods may be honourably reverenced.' 

" * That is my important pursuit; I have already prepared 
the soaring and ecstatic Olympiodorus, the noble and obscure 
Heraclius ; I join the Asiatic luxuriancy of Proclus, divinely 
explained by Jamblichus, and profoundly delivered by Plotinus. 
Plotinus, who was surnamed ' Intellect ' by his contemporaries, 
such was the fervour of his mind, that he was accustomed to 
write without attending to the orthography or the revision of his 
works, which perhaps occasions their divine unintelligibility ; 
for the celestial vigour rendered him incapable of trifling con- 
cerns, and he therefore committed them, as fast as he wrote, to 
Porphyry, who, perhaps labouring under the same divine influ- 
ence, was equally incapable of orthography or sense.' The 
Platonist concluded this conversation with an invective, of 
which the style appears to us so curious that we shall give the 
exact expressions, as a specimen of the Platonic effervescence in 
a Ciceronian period : 

" * I have long perceived the ignorance and malevolence of 
Christian priests, from the most early fathers to the most 
modern retailers of hypocrisy and cant ; every intelligent reader 
must be alternately excited to grief and indignation, to pity and 
contempt, at the barbarous mythological systems of the 
moderns; for in these we meet with nothing but folly and 
delusion, opinions founded either on fanaticism or atheism, in- 
conceivably absurd, and inextricably obscure, ridiculously vain, 
and monstrously deformed, stupidly dull, and contemptibly 
zealous, apostolically delirious, or historically dry, and, in one 
word, such only as arrogance and ignorance could conceive, im- 
piety propagate, and the vapid spirit of the moderns be induced 
to admit.' 

" * My dear Platonist,' exclaimed Vaurien, * if you can roll 
periods like these, your genius will be rewarded by yourself 



being chosen by the nation to lay the first stone of a Pantheon 
in London, for "the ascent of excellent daemons ".' " (Vol. II., p. 



There is nothing to show that D'Israeli was personally ac- 
quainted with Taylor the Platonist, and the sketch in Vaurien 
is too obviously caricatured to be worthy of much attention. 

Taylor, after leaving the bank, " had a place in one of the 
public offices, to the fatigues of which, finding his strength by 
no means adequate, and the employment appearing to him at 
the same time extremely servile, he relinquished it almost im- 
mediately after his nomination," and composed the following 
lines on the occasion : 

To ev'ry power that reigns on high, 

Swifter than light my thanks shall fly, 

That, from the B * * # dark dungeon free, 

I once more hail sweet liberty ! 

For sure, I ween, fate ne'er me doom'd 

To be 'midst sordid cares entomb'd, 

And vilely waste in groveling toil 

The mid -day blaze and midnight oil, 

To some poor darkling desk confin'd ; 

While the wing'd energies of mind 

Oppress'd, and crush'd, and vanquish'd lie, 

And lose at length, the power to fly. 

A doom like this be his alone 

To whom truth's charms were never known ; 

Who many sleepless nights has spent, 

In schemes full fraught with cent, per cent. 

The slave of av'rice, child of care, 

And lost to all that's good and fair. 

Mr. Taylor finally, by the influence of his friends, was 
appointed assistant secretary of the Society of Arts. 

Amongst Taylor's friends was Thomas Lovell Peacock, whose 
grand-daughter says : " My grandfather's friends were espe- 
cially Mr. Macgregor Laird and Mr. Coulson, also the two Smiths 
of the ' Rejected Addresses ; ' Barry Cornwall (Mr. Procter), 
and a remarkable man, Mr. Thomas Taylor, of Norwich, com- 
monly called * Pagan Taylor,' who always addressed grandpapa 
as ' Greeky Peeky ' ; he sacrificed lambs in his lodgings to the 
1 immortal gods,' and * poured out libations to Jupiter,' until his 
landlord threatened to turn him out; hence his nickname of 
' Pagan.' " 

It is rather amusing here to see Thomas Taylor confounded 
with Taylor of Norwich, as on other occasions he has been 



10 



confounded with Robert Taylor, the Devil's Chaplain, and even 
with Isaac Taylor! The. origin of the story about the sacrifice, 
which has more than once been taken seriously, was probably 
no more than a good-natured jest. 

Let us now endeavour to chronicle the various publications 
of this extraordinary man. They are all of them in a certain 
degree rare, and some of them are so in an exceptional degree: 

No date. 

History of the Restoration of the 
Platonic Theology. London. 4to. 



1780. 

Elements of a new method of Rea- 
soning in Geometry. London, 1780. 4to. 

1786. 

A short Essay on the Propagation and 
Dispersion of Animals and Vegetables. 
Being chiefly intended as an answer to 
a Letter lately published, and supposed 
to be written by a Gentleman of Exeter, 
in favor of Equivocal Generation. Lon- 
don, 1786. This is included in Mr. 
Sandford's list, but is not by Taylor 
but by Elford, and is a reply to William 
Jackson of Exeter. 

1787. 

The Mystical Initiations ; or, Hymns 
of Orpheus. Translated from the ori- 
ginal Greek ; with a Preliminary Dis- 
sertation on the Life and Theology of 
Orpheus. By Thomas Taylor. Lon- 
don, printed for the author, 1787, I 
vol., I2mo. 

1787. 

Concerning the Beautiful, or, A Pa- 
raphrased Translation from the Greek 
of Plotinus, Ennead I. Book VI. By 
Thomas Taylor. London, printed for 
the author, 1787, I vol., I2mo. 

1790 or 1791. 

A Dissertation on the Eleusinian and 
Bacchic Mysteries. Amsterdam. Printed 
and sold by J. Weitstein. 8vo. This 
was no doubt printed in London. 
The Dissertation, with additions, ap- 
peared also in the Pamphleteer, Vol. 
VIII., 1816. 

1792. 

An Essay on the Beautiful. From 
the Greek of Plotinus, London, 
printed for the author, 1792, l vol., 
I2mo. 

1792. 

The Phsedrus of Plato. A dialogue 
concerning Beauty and Love. Trans- 
lated from the Greek. London, 1792, 
I vol., 4to. 



1792. 

Commentaries of Proclus, Philo- 
sophical and Mathematical, on the 
First Book of Euclid's Elements ; to 
which are added, A History of the 
Restoration of the Platonic Theology 
by the Latter Platonists ; and a trans- 
lation from the Greek of Proclus's 
Theological Elements. Dedicated " To 
the Sacred Majesty of Truth." London, 
printed for the author, 1792, 2 vols., 
4to. 

1792 

The Rights of Brutes. London, 1792, 
i vol., 121110. Said to be a satire on 
Paine's Rights of Man. 

1792. 

The Hymns of Orpheus. Translated 
from original Greek, with a Preliminary 
Dissertation on the Life and Theology 
of Orpheus. London, Printed for the 
author, 1792, I vol., 8vo. 

1793- 

Two Orations of Emperor Julian. 
One to the Sovereign Sun, and the 
other to the Mother of the Gods ; 
Translated from the Greek. With 
Notes, and a copious Introduction, in 
which some of the greatest arcana of 
the Grecian Theology are unfolded. 
London, 1793, I vol., 8vo. 

1793- 

The Cratylus, Phredo, Pharmenides, 
and Timreus of Plato. Translated 
from the Greek by Thomas Taylor. 
With notes on the Cratylus, and an 
explanatory introduction to each 
dialogue. London, 1793, I vol., 8vo. 

1793- 

Sallust on the Gods and the \Vorld ; 
and the Pythagoric Sentences ofDemo- 
philus. Translated from the Greek ; and 
Five Hymns, by Proclus, in the original 
Greek, with a poetical version. To 
which are added Five Hymns by the 
translator. London, 1793, I vol., 
8vo. The version of Demophilus is 
reprinted in tiiQPhilobiblwn, New York, 
1862, vol. I, p. 152. 



II 



1794- 

The Description of Greece. Trans- 
lated from the Greek. "With notes, in 
which much of the Mythology of the 
Greeks is unfolded from a theory which 
has been for many ages unknown, and 
illustrated with maps and views 
elegantly engraved. London, 1794? 3 
vols. , 8vo. For this Taylor received p6o 
the only one of his works for which 
he was paid by the booksellers or the 
public. A second edition appeared in 
1824. 

1794. 

Five Books of Plotinus, viz. : On 
Felicity ; On the Nature and Origin of 
Evil ; On Providence ; On Nature, 
Contemplation, and The One ; and on 
the Descent of the Soul. Translated 
from the Greek, with an Introduction, 
containing Additional Information on 
these Important Subjects. By Thomas 
Taylor. London, 1794, I vol., 8vo. 

1794. 

Abridgement of the History of the 
West Indies. By Bryan Edwards, M.P. 
London, 1794, 3 vols., 8vo. 

1795- 

The Fable of Cupid and Psyche. 
Translated from the Latin of Apuleius : 
To which are added, a Poetical Para- 
phrase on the Speech of Diotima, at 
the Banquet of Plato ; Four Hymns, 
&c., &c., with an Introduction in which 
the meaning of the Fable is unfolded. 
London, printed for the author, 1795, 
I vol., 8vo. 

1801. 

Metaphysics of Aristotle, Translated 
from the Greek ; with Copious Notes, 
in which the Pythagoric and Platonic 
Dogmas respecting Numbers and Ideas 
are Unfolded from Antient Sources. 
To which is added a Dissertation on 
Nullities and Diverging Series. Lon- 
don, printed for the author, 1801. 

1 vol., 410. The dissertation was not 
included in the second edition, which 
appeared in 1812 as Vol. IX. of the 
translation of Aristotle. See under 
date 1806.. 

1803. 

An edition of Hederic's Greek 
Lexicon, 4to. 

1804. 

The Dissertations of Maximus Ty- 
rius. Translated from the Greek by 
Thomas Taylor. London, Printed 
for the translator, WhiUingham, 1804, 

2 vols., I2mo. 



1804. 

An Answer to Dr. Gillies's Supple- 
ment to his New Analysis of Aristotle's 
Works ; in which the Unfaithfulness of 
his Translation of Aristotle's Ethics is 
Unfolded. By Thomas Taylor. Lon- 
don, printed by C. Whittingham, for 
the author, 1804, I vol., 8vo. 

1804. 

Translations from the Greek, viz. : 
Aristotle's Synopsis of the Virtues and 
Vices. The Similitudes of Demophi- 
lus. The Golden Sentences of Demo- 
crates, and the Pythagoric Symbols, 
with the explanations of Jamblichus. 
By William Bridgman, F.L.S. To 
which are added, The Pythagoric Sen- 
tences of Demothilus. By Mr. Thomas 
Taylor. London, printed for W. 
Bridgman, 1804, I vol., I2mo. 

1804. 

The Works of Plato. Fifty- five Dia- 
logues and Twelve Epistles. Trans- 
lated by Taylor and Sydenham, with 
Annotations and Copious Notes, in 
which is given nearly all the existing 
Greek MSS., Commentaries on the 
Philosophy of Plato, and a considerable 
portion of such as are already published. 
London, printed for Thomas Taylor. 

1804, 5 vols., 4to. 

1805. 

Miscellanies in Prose and Verse. 
Containing The Triumph of the Wise 
Man over Fortune, according to the 
Doctrine of the Stoics and Platonists ; 
The Creed of the Platonic Philosopher ; 
A Panegyric on Sydenham, &c., &c., 
by Thomas Taylor, London, printed 
for the author, by C. Whittingham, 

1805, i vol., 8vo. 

1806. 

Collectanea ; or, Collections consist- 
ing of Miscellanies inserted by Thomas 
Taylor in the European and Monthly 
Magazines^ ,with an Appendix containing 
some Hymns by the same author never 
before printed.*** London : printed 
for the author, by C. Whittingham, 
Dean Street, 1806, I vol., I2mo. In the 
preface it is mentioned that the volume 
was printed at the request of William 
Meredith. It contains a paraphrase of 
Ocellus Lucanuson the Nature of the Uni- 
verse, which appeared in the European 
Magazine in 1782, and "is the earliest 
of the author's publications." On p. 
18 is an Address to the British Na- 
tion ; on p. 19 On a Text in Pie- 
brews (Heb. xi., 3). On p. 24 is a 



12 



letter to the Editor of the Monthly 
Magazine , on p. 29 another ; on p. 31 
To the Rising Sun ; on p. 34 Chaldean 
Oracles ; followed by (p. 38) A Con- 
cise Explanation of Chalclaic Dogmas, 
by Psellus ; on p. 45 begins the Oracles 
of Zoroaster ; on p. 63 Chaldean Ora- 
cles delivered by Theurgists under the 
reign of the Emperor Marcus Antonius; 
on p. 80, Chaldean Oracles ; on p. 1 1 1 
a Letter on Sensual and Intellectual 
Pleasures ; on p. 116 Theodosius and 
Constantia ; on p. 121 The Dream, 
an Imitation of the beginning of the 
Eleventh Book of Apuleius ; on p. 127 
a Letter on the Fables of the Ancients ; 
on p. 135, a Letter on the Name of 
God; on p. 137 on Alchemy; p. 139 
To the Sun. The Appendix begins on 
p. 147. There were but fifty copies of 
this printed, at the expense of Mr. 
Meredith. 

1806. 

The Works of Aristotle. Translated 
from the Greek. With copious eluci- 
dations from the best of his Greek 
Commentators, viz. : Alexander Aphro- 
disiensis, Syrianus, Ammonius Her- 
mseas, Priscianus, Olympiodorus, 
Simplicius, &c. By Thomas Taylor. 
London, printed for the translator, 
1806-12 ; 9 vols., 410. 

1809. 

The Arguments of Emperor Julian 
against the Christians. Translated 
from the Greek Fragments preserved 
by Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria. To 
which are added Extracts from the 
other Works of Julian relative to the 
Christians. By Thomas Taylor. London, 
printed for the translator, 1809, 
I vol., 8vo. 

1812. 

Philosophy of Aristotle. A Disserta- 
tion on the four books. London, 
printed for the author, 1812, I vol., 4to. 

1816. 

Theoretic Arithmetic ; in Three 
Books, containing the substance of all 
that has been written on this subject 
by Theo of Smyrna, Nicomachus, 
Jamblichus, and Boetius. _ Together 
with some remarkable particulars re- 
specting perfect, amicable, and other 
numbers, which are not to be found in 
the writings of any ancient or modern 
mathematicians. Likewise, a specimen 
of the mauner in which the Pytha- 
goreans philosophized about numbers, 



and a development of their mystical 
and theological arithmetic. By Thomas 
Taylor. London, printed for the 
author, 1816, I vol., 8vo. 

1816. 

The Six Books of Proclus, the 
Platonic Successor; On the Theology of 
Plato, translated from the Greek ; to 
which a Seventh Book is added, in 
order to supply the deficiency of 
another book on this subject, which 
was written by Proclus, but since lost. 
Also a translation from the Greek of 
Proclus' Elements of Theology. To 
which are added a Translation of 
Extracts from his Treatise, entitled 
Ten Doubts Concerning Providence ; 
and a translation of Extracts from his 
Treatise on the Subsistence of Evil ; as 
preserved in the Bibliotheca Graeca of 
Fabricius. By Thomas Taylor. London, 
printed for the author, 1816, 2vols.,4to. 

1816. 

The Pamphleteer ; Vol. VIII. , 8vo., 
contains the Dissertation on the 
Eleusinian and Bacchic Mysteries. See 
under date 1791. 

1817. 

Select Works of Plotinus, The 
Great Restorer of the Philosophy of 
Plato ; and Extracts from the Treatise 
of Synesius on Providence. Translated 
from the Greek. With an introduction 
containing the substance of Porphyry's 
Life of Plotinus. By Thomas Taylor. 
London, printed for and sold by the 
author, and by Black and Son, 1817, 
I vol., 8vo. 

1818. 

Jamblichus' Life of Pythagoras, or 
Pythagoric Life. Accompanied by 
Fragments of the Ethical Writings of 
Certain Pythagorians in the Doric 
Dialect ; and a Collection of Pythagoric 
Sentences from Stobseus and others, 
which are omitted by Gale in his 
Opuscula Mythologica, and have not 
been noticed by any editor. Trans- 
lated from the Greek. By Thomas 
Taylor. London, printed by A. J. 
Valpy, and sold by the author, 1818, 
I vol., 8vo. 

1818. 

The Rhetoric, Poetic, and Nicoma- 
chaean Ethics of Aristotle. Translated 
from the Greek. By Thomas Taylor. 
London, 1818. 2 vols. 






1820. 

Miscellanies in Prose and Verse. 
Containing The Triumph of the Wise 
Man over Fortune, according to the 
Doctrine of the Stoics and Platonists ; 
The Creed of the Platonic Philosopher ; 
A Panegyric on Sydenham, &c., &c. 
By Thomas Taylor. Second edition, 
with additions. London, printed for 
the author, 1820, I vol., i6mo. 

1820. 

Commentaries of Proclus on the 
Timseus of Plato, in Five Books ; con- 
taining a Treasury of Pythagoric and 
Platonic Physiology. Translated from 
the Greek. By Thomas Taylor. London, 
printed for and sold by the author, 
1810, 2 vols., 410. 

1821. 

Jamblichus on the Mysteries of the 
Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Abyssinians. 
Translated from the Greek by Thomas 
Taylor. Chiswick, printed by C. Whit- 
tingham, for the translator, Manor 
Place, Walworth, 1821, I vol., 8vo. 

1822. 

The Metamorphosis, or Golden Ass, 
and Philosophical Works of Apuleius. 
Translated from the original Latin, by 
Thomas Taylor. London, 1822. i vol., 
8vo. 

1822. 

Political Fragments of Archytus, 
Charondas, Zaleucus and other ancient 
Pythagoreans, preserved by Stobaeus ; 
and also Ethical Fragments of Hierocles, 
the celebrated Commentator on the 
Golden Pythagoric Verses, preserved by 
the same author. Translated from the 
Greek by Thomas Taylor. Chiswick, 
Printed by C. Whittingham, for the 
translator, 1822, I vol., 8vo. 

1823. 

The Elements of a New Arithmetical 
Notation, and of a new Arithmetic of 
Infinites ; In Two Books ; in which 
the series discovered by modern mathe- 
maticians, for the quadrature of the 
circle and hyperbola, are demonstrated 
to be aggregately incommeasurable 
quantities, and a criterion is given, by 
which the commeasurability or incom- 
measurability of infinite series may be 
accurately ascertained. With an Ap- 
pendix, concerning some properties of 
perfect, amicable, and other numbers, 



no less remarkable than novel. By 
Thomas Taylor. London, 1823, I vol., 
8vo. 

1823 

Select Works of Porphyry. Con- 
taining his Four Books on Abstinence 
from Animal Food ; his Treatise on the 
Homeric Cave of the Nymphs and his 
Auxiliaries to the Perception of Intelli- 
gible Natures. Translated from the 
Greek by Thomas Taylor. With an 
Appendix explaining the Allegory of 
the Wanderings of Ulysses. By the 
translator. London, 1823, I vol., 8vo. 

1824. 
See Pausanias, under date 1794. 

1824. 

The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus. 
Translated from the Greek, and de- 
monstrated to be the Invocations which 
were used in the Eleusinian Mysteries. 
By Thomas Taylor. The second edit- 
ion, with considerable Emendations, 
Alterations, and Additions. Chiswick 
Press, 1824, i vol., 8vo. 

1825. 

Lost Writings of Proclus. The 
Fragments that remain of Proclus, sur- 
named the Platonic Successor. Trans- 
lated from the Greek. By Thomas Tay- 
lor. London, printed for the author, 
1825. i vol., 8vo. 

1830. 

Arguments of Celsus, Porphyry and 
the Emperor Julian against the Chris- 
tians, and also extracts from Diodorus 
Siculus, Josephus, and Tacitus, relating 
to the Jews. Together with an Appen- 
dix containing the Oration of Libanius 
in Defense of the Temples of the 
Heathens. Translated by Dr. Lard- 
ner ; and extracts from Bingham's 
Antiquities of the Christian Church, 
London, Thomas Rodd, 1830. i vol., 
i6mo. 

1831. 

Ocellus Lucanus, on the Nature of 
the Universe. Taurus, the Platonic 
Philosopher, on the Eternity of the 
World. Julius Firmicus Maternus of 
the Thema Mundi ; in which the Posi- 
tions of the Stars at the commencement 
of the several Mundane Periods is 
given. Select Theorems on the Per- 
petuity of Time, by Proclus. Trans- 



lated from the originals, by Thomas 1834. 

Taylor. London, printed for the trans- Translations from the Greek of the 

lator, 1831, r vol., 8vo. following Treatises of Plotinus, viz.: 

On Suicide ; to which is added An Ex- 

1833. tract from the Harleian MSS. of the 

_^ Two Treatises of Proclus, the Platonic Scholia of Olympiodorus on the Phcedo 

Successor; the Former consisting of Ten of Plato respecting Suicide, accompa- 

Doubts concerning Providence, and a nied by the Greek Text ; Two books 

Solution of those Doubts ; and the latter on Truly Existing Being ; and Extracts 

containing a Development of the Nature from his Treatise on the Manner in 

of Evil. Translated from the edition which the Multitude of Ideas Subsists, 

of these works by Victor Cousin, by and concerning The Good ; with acldi- 

Thomas Taylor. Londo^ printed for tional notes from Porphyry and Proclus. 

the translator, and sold by William By Thomas Taylor. London, printed 

Pickering. 1833, I vol., 8vo. Re- for the translator, 9, Manor Place, 

issued in 1841. Walworth, 1834, i vol., 8vo. 

Thomas Taylor died at his residence at Walworth, i Novem- 
ber, 1835. Tne cause of death was a disease of the bladder, 
borne with stoical resignation. Some days before his death he 
asked if a comet had appeared, and being answered in the affir- 
mative, said, " Then I shall die ; I was born with it and shall die 
with it." 

He was buried in Walworth churchyard, but no stone marks 
the spot, and the resting place of the Platonist is unknown. 
(Notes and Queries, 7th S. IX., 194). He was an enthusiast, 
and only an enthusiast could have done his work. His 
translations represent a side of Greek thought that but for 
him would be unrepresented in English literature. The sneers 
at his command of Greek are evidently absurd, for surely 
no man's mind was ever more thoroughly suffused with the very 
essence of Neo-Platonism. Whatever failure he may have made 
in unessential details would be more than compensated by the 
fidelity with which his sympathetic mind reproduced the spirit 
of the Pythagorean philosophers with whom he dwelt apart from 
the noise and turmoil of the age in which he had been cast. His 
books remain a mighty monument of disinterested devotion to 
philosophic study. They were produced without regard to, and 
hopeless of, profit. They are not addressed to popular instincts, 
and there is no attempt made to give them clearness of style or 
to present their thoughts in an attractive fashion. The gold that 
was in them the Platonist thought deserved the trouble of toil- 
some digging. 

The life of Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, is one which will 
receive a tribute of admiration from the thoughtful. However 
much of an anachronism a Pagan philosopher may seem in the 
London of the nineteenth century of Christianity, it must be 
acknowledged that a man who devotes himself to poverty and 



study in an age and country famous for the pursuit of wealth ; 
who has the courage to adopt and the sincerity to avow opinions 
that are contrary to every prejudice of the time ; who runs the 
risk of persecution and imprisonment ; a man who " scorns 
delights and lives laborious days," is entitled to our admiration 
and respect. And such was Thomas Taylor, the Platonist, 
whose name should be remembered by all friends of learning and 
freedom of thought. 

WILLIAM E. A. AXON. 








RETURN TO the circulation desk ot any 
University of California Library 

or to the 

NORTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY 
Bldg. 400, Richmond Field Station 
University of California 
Richmond, CA 94804-4698 

ALL BOOKS MAY BE RECALLED AFTER 7 DAYS 

2-month loans may be renewed by calling 
(510)642-6753 

1-year loans may be recharged by bringing 
books to NRLF 

Renewals and recharges may be made 4 
days prior to due date. 

DUE AS STAMPED BELOW 

EEC 2 5 1998 

05 



- 



12,000(11/95) 



|Y 
$ 



LD21A-60m-8,'70 General Li brary 

(N8837slO)476 A-32 University of California 

Berkeley 




U.C. BERKELEY LIBRARIES